A senior leader at Britain’s new national police agency has unexpectedly decided not to take up his job as head of economic crime-fighting but categorically denied that his decision was linked to scrutiny of his own tax affairs.
Home Secretary Theresa May announced the appointment of Jeremy Outen, 48, amid fanfare in April and said that getting the leadership in place early was “critical” to ensuring the agency was ready to start work this year.
Mr Outen, who quit as a highly-paid partner of KPMG in June, said that he was not taking the job owing to personal reasons, following reports suggesting the late change of heart was down to his own finances.
“I’m happy to categorically, wholly deny there’s any tax issue. My tax affairs are straightforward and there’s no tax avoidance,” he told the Independent. He said claims to the contrary were “malicious and unfounded.”
However, his decision not to take the job is a blow to the government’s reorganisation of the service. He had been due to take up the job as director of the Economic Crime Command in July to prepare for the start of operations tackling serious organised crime at the end of the year. “Steps are currently being taken to ensure this position is filled,” said the Home Office.
Although he has not been a police officer, Mr Outen has been at KPMG for 25 years and as a forensic accountant worked on cases including investigations into dormant bank accounts belonging to Nazi victims and the collapse of the former giant of the Russian banking system. He became head of fraud at KPMG and has been a partner since 2007.
The head of the National Crime Agency, Keith Bristow, said that Mr Outen had been an exceptional candidate when he was appointed in April and would be a major asset to the organisation.
The economic command is one of four pillars at the new agency, which replaces the Serious Organised Crime Agency. The other key appointments have been named for child protection, serious organised crime and the policing of borders.
Soca was scrapped after criticisms that it had failed to secure the arrests of key criminal players or seize illegally-obtained assets. Soca’s chairman Sir Ian Andrews resigned a fortnight ago after failing to declare that he owned a security consultancy with his wife before giving evidence to a parliamentary committee.